Rev. Nataniel Tabuni (centre) with Rev Esmon Walilo (right) when delivering a request for clarification to Cenderawasih XVII Public Affairs Chief - Jubi / Victor Mambor

Rev. Nataniel Tabuni asks Military Spokesman to clarify his statement

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: Rev. Nataniel Tabuni (centre) with Rev Esmon Walilo (right) when delivering a request for clarification to Cenderawasih XVII Public Affairs Chief – Jubi / Victor Mambor

Jayapura, Jubi – Rev. Nataniel Tabuni asked Colonel Infantry Muhammad Aidi, spokesman of the Military Command Cenderawasih XVII to clarify his statement saying Tabuni has met Rev. Gimin Nirigi who reportedly killed by soldiers in Mapendupa, Nduga Regency and confirmed that the priest was healthy and fine.

 

In his statement to a media in Jakarta, the colonel made an impression that he talked directly with Rev. Nataniel Tabuni who then asked him to forward this information to media.

 

Then, an online media in Jakarta wrote,” The news of the murder of Reverend Gemin Nirigi whose body then burned by the security forces was a hoax. The hoax deliberately spread by irresponsible people,” said the Reverend Natatiel Tabuni via the Chief of Public Affairs of the Military Command Cenderawasih XVII, the Colonel Infantry Muhammad Aidi in Jayapura on Friday  (1/11/2019).

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“Nataniel admitted that he had met with Reverend Gemin Nirigi and confirmed that Nirigi was in good condition,” this colonel said.

 

In opposite, Reverend Natanile Tabuni told Jubi that he never said it to the colonel as reported by media.

 

“I never said that. Mapenduma is far away from here. I have never been there. If someone tells a lie like this, it’s not good, especially using my name,” said Tabuni to Jubi in Wamena on Tuesday (1/15/2019).

 

Therefore, he asked the colonel to immediately clarify his statement because it might risk his image as a priest who serves the church in Nduga. “I am a priest. If this information turns out that is not true, it’s also my sin. Don’t use my name to lie,” he said.

 

On the same place, Rev. Esmon Walilo, the Coordinator of Jaya Wijaya Kingmi Church said he had talked to Colonel Aidi regarding his statement. However, when he asked for further clarification, the colonel not answering and their conversation ended.

 

He further said the colonel must understand that any statement made by a priest is related to his church.  Therefore he asked for further clarification from the military public affairs chief. “But until today, I have not received any answer. So who spreads the hoax, actually?” asked the priest.

 

Moreover, according to him, the information about Reverend Gemin Nirigi’s murder was obtained from Nirigi’s family.

 

On 19 December 2018, the Reverend Gemin joined the local people to flee from Mapenduma to Paro, but then he decided to return due to his long-suffering of knee-joint pain. However, his son Mincena Nirigi found his father’s burned body behind their house on 3 January 2019.

 

Reverend Gemin Nirigi was one of the church leaders in Nduga District and also known as a Bible translator into local language.

 

Unfortunately, due to limited access of transportation and communication to Mapenduma, the information about his death still cannot be verified.

 

“To have clear information about Reverend Nirigi’s murder, we recommend the authority to open all access to Nduga, especially Mapenduma, so that journalists, NGOs or church can verify whether it is true or hoax  and who are spreading this hoax,” said Rev. Walilo. (*)

Reported by Victor Mambor

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